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Foster and school district part ways

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Colleton County School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster resigned Monday Feb. 3. According to a school district press release, the separation between the school board and Foster was amicable.

Citing his reasons, Foster said that he had taken the district as far as he could, and that it was time to move on.

Sean Gruber, office of communications coordinator for the district, said that the separation was a result of amicable discussion and the agreement between Foster and the board and was not a disciplinary action or related to any allegations of wrongdoing. “All of us in the Colleton County School District wish Dr. Foster luck in his future endeavors, and we thank him for his tireless support of our county’s students,” said Gruber.

School Board member Tim Mabry was saddened by the decision. “I have worked with Dr. Foster for many years. He was highly dedicated to this district and the education of the children He has made a lot of improvements during his tenure here. It’s not easy to find someone with his abilities willing to come to Colleton County to work,” said Mabry.

In 2011, Foster, a former teacher and principal, came to Colleton as the executive director of personnel, and later as director of Human Resources. He became interim superintendent, and eventually full superintendent of Colleton, in 2014.

During his tenure in Colleton, Foster:

 successfully built a new elementary school (Bells)

 balanced the budget

 expanded wireless capability

 implemented capital projects to address facilities needs

 developed staff development plans to meet student needs

 partnered with Kelly Services to improve substitute teacher workforce

 developed paperless online tracking program

 reduced unemployment insurance costs by 75%

 boosted recruitment plans with Teach for America

 redesigned new hiring procedures

 facilitated ADEPT teacher evaluations, SAFE-T for contractual teachers, GBE (Goals Based Education) for teachers, PADEPP for principals

 upgraded security and technology throughout the district

 renovated the former Forest Circle Middle School as new district office, which will eventually save funds from leasing the old district campus from the city.

While Foster received a rating of “effective” by school board members in his last evaluation, and the school district auditors declared no discrepancies or misappropriations whatsoever, he still battled constant criticism and battles with a small faction in the community.

The board was negotiating the terms of his contract, which went through June 30, 2021, when he resigned. The potential salary would have been $191,000.

Foster tendered his resignation with the request of an amicable separation agreement. The parties agreed to a buyout of his current contract of $120,000, effective February 8.

Board member William Bowman stated, “We, the board, had no information or evidence of any systemic controversy or improprieties which may have effected stakeholder interests or investments, nor did we receive any rationale or causes which instigated his request. We wish him much success in his future professional endeavors.”

Sharon Witkin, vice chair of the board, said that they had been in negotiations with Foster for the last week, but he felt he needed to leave. “We are sad to see him go, but we are putting our best foot forward, looking ahead to a new change in our district,” said Witkin.

Foster’s decision was made just days before district personnel are to move into their new headquarters located on Forest Circle and a week after the annual Stakeholders’ Strategic Planning meeting where parents, teachers, and personnel met together to discuss the direction the school district wanted to take.

A serious concern is the upcoming CIRRA event in Columbia. CIRRA is a huge teacher recruiting forum held at the fairgrounds where the district planned to recruit new teachers to Colleton County.

“Having no leader will certainly make things more difficult for recruiting teachers, but we will do the best we can,” said assistant superintendent Cliff Warren.

The search for a new permanent superintendent will not take place until after the general election in November because four of the board seats (districts 1, 3, 5, and 7) are up for re-election. The newly-seated board will have that responsibility.

The board will be hiring an interim superintendent in approximately 2-3 weeks to manage the district until a new permanent superintendent is hired.

While searching for an interim, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cliff Warren and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Jessica Williams will be serving in Foster’s place. Foster has agreed to assist Warren and Williams prepare for their new roles through February 8, and will serve as a consultant for 60 days.

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